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The Penitent Off-Broadway – Review
The Penitent is a stunning new production from playwright extraordinaire David Mamet. Mamet has written multiple successes including Glengarry Glen Ross and American Buffalo, and has also won a Pulitzer Prize for his contributions to American theater. The Penitent is another example of Mamet’s snappy, expletive-laced dialogue and perfectly crafted dramatic arcs. Starring True Blood’s Chris Bauer and Laurence Gilliard Jr. from The Walking Dead, The Penitent promises to be a thrilling drama that explores tricky subjects like law, ethics, and morality.
The story follows a psychiatrist played by Bauer whose life and career are upended when he refuses to testify on the behalf of one of his former patients. Multiple people were killed when the patient became unstable and violent following a breakdown. Controversially, the patient then suggests that Charles will not testify on his behalf because he is part of the LGBT community. This is further complicated by the fact that the patient believes Charles has gone through a religious conversion and become prejudiced against the gay community, and a misunderstanding based on a typo in one of the psychiatrist’s published articles. The play examines Charles’ reactions to the defeating events that threaten to take over his life and end his career completely.
The Penitent tackles some tricky issues with depth and drama, allowing a gripping tale to play out onstage. While the storyline has echoes of well-produced films and television series, the stage show brings the premise to a whole new level. With Mamet’s writing and smooth direction from Neil Pepe, The Penitent works on many levels to capture the audience’s curiosity while it explores delicate issues. In partnership with the cast of talented actors, The Penitent is another effective and exhilarating show from Mamet.
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